GOP senator: Trump is ‘the only one in the government’ not paying attention to Russian threat to midterms

GOP senator: Trump is ‘the only one in the government’ not paying attention to Russian threat to midterms
© Getty Images

President TrumpDonald John TrumpAverage tax refunds down double-digits, IRS data shows White House warns Maduro as Venezuela orders partial closure of border with Colombia Trump administration directs 1,000 more troops to Mexican border MORE is the only figure in the U.S. government not paying attention to the threat posed by Russia in this year's midterm elections, according to Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordHarris on election security: 'Russia can't hack a piece of paper' GOP advances rules change to speed up confirmation of Trump nominees GOP senator calls Omar's apology 'entirely appropriate' MORE (R-Okla.).

The Intelligence Committee member made the remarks in a joint interview with Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharKlobuchar ate salad with her comb, ordered aide to clean it: report Sanders endorses Oakland teachers strike Dem strategist says Clinton ‘absolutely’ has a role to play in 2020 MORE (D-Minn.) to CNN in which the two detailed how the rest of the government is taking actions to try to protect the elections — despite what Lankford said were inconsistent messages in Trump tweets.

"The intelligence community has been very active on this, the Department of Homeland Security has been active on this," he told CNN. "While the president has been inconsistent in his tweets, and some of the messaging that he's put on it, he's the only one in the government that hasn't been paying attention to this."

ADVERTISEMENT
Lankford said Trump administration has made it clear that it understands the threat posed by Russia, regardless of the president's tweets. 
 
"Director [of National Intelligence](Dan) Coats made it clear that Russia has been emboldened and they're getting bolder," Klobuchar added. 
 
Lankford and Klobuchar have offered legislation aimed at shoring up the nation's election system. The Secure Elections Act, which is cosponsored by 10 senators in addition to Lankford and Klobuchar, is intended to strengthen state and federal reactions to cybersecurity and other threats posed in the elections. 
 
Lankford said that he'd be "shocked if there's a senator that hasn't been targeted" by Russia in this election cycle. When asked about the The Daily Beast report that revealed Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillPoll: 33% of Kentucky voters approve of McConnell McCaskill: Lindsey Graham 'has lost his mind' Trey Gowdy joins Fox News as a contributor MORE (D-Mo.) had been targeted by Russian hackers, he said it's "pretty regular thing around here."
 
The Senate rejected an effort on Wednesday by Democrats to provide states with $250 million in grants to secure their election systems. Senators voted 50-47 against adding an amendment from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) that would have provided the funding. Sixty votes were needed to include the proposal in the appropriations legislation under Senate rules. 
 
Lankford  also criticized Trump's actions during his summit in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that the president missed an opportunity to tell Putin that Russian interference in elections is "not acceptable anywhere in the world.